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I-15 IRP releases draft report on employment clusters


Last updated 12/8/2006 at Noon

A draft report by the I-15 Interregional Partnership titled “Riverside and San Diego Counties: Cluster Analysis and Opportunities for Cooperative Economic Development” was released November 9.

The report identified “traded employment clusters,” or interrelated groups of industries which are driving forces behind a regional economy. The purpose of the report was to develop initiatives to promote a rising standard of living for both regions.

“A major part of this is to retain the jobs we already have instead of losing them,” said Kevin Viera, the I-15 Interregional Partnership program manager for the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG).

The report noted that the combined region’s standard of living is at risk since the majority of job growth in the 16 identified traded employment clusters over the past five years has been in employment paying below the region’s average wage.

The traded employment clusters account for 338,000 jobs, or about 18 percent of the total 1.9 million jobs in the two regions. While total employment has grown by an annual average of 2.4 percent, employment in the traded clusters has grown by an average of 4.3 percent. The average annual salary for the traded clusters is $48,400, which is nearly 20 percent above the average annual salary for total employment.

“We actually share a lot of clusters between the two economies,” said San Diego Association of Governments chief economist Marney Cox during a November 17 presentation of the report at SANDAG’s Borders Committee meeting.

The largest employment totals among the 16 clusters are residential construction (Riverside County only) with 57,700 total jobs, followed by entertainment and recreation with 51,800 jobs, travel and hospitality with 49,000 jobs, consulting services with 46,300 jobs, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals with 31,800 jobs, telecommunications with 20,300 jobs, electronic and communications equipment with 18,800 jobs, defense, aerospace, and transportation with 17,400 jobs, supplies with 8,600 jobs, fruit and vegetable production with 7,800 jobs, nursery and floriculture production with 7,100 jobs, manufactured mobile and motor homes with 6,800 jobs, alternative power and natural gas supply with 5,800 jobs, animal and food production with 3,700 jobs, sporting and athletic goods manufacturing with between 1,000 and 5,000 jobs, and musical instrument manufacturing with between 1,000 and 5,000 jobs (some details were suppressed or shown in ranges to maintain confidentiality).

The highest average annual wage was in telecommunications at $103,000, followed by biotechnology and pharmaceuticals at $81,000, electronic and communication equipment at $75,300, and alternative power and natural gas supply at $70,000. The lowest wages were in fruit and vegetable production at $20,300, travel and hospitality at $25,000, and entertainment and recreation at $27,500.

The highest average annual employment growth was in residential construction, which grew at a rate of 12.2 percent in Riverside County. Entertainment and recreation employment grew at 9.1 percent and consulting services and manufactured mobile and motor homes each grew at 7.3 percent annually. Sporting and athletic goods manufacturing employment fell by an annual average of 8.1 percent while electronic and communication equipment job totals dropped by an average of 4.5 percent and fruit and vegetable production personnel declined by an average rate of 3.5 percent.

Four additional Riverside County only clusters were also identified: logistics (warehousing and transportation), wineries and grape vineyards, aluminum and metal product manufacturing, and plastics and foam product manufacturing.

Riverside County’s 136,827 jobs in traded clusters consisted of 55,110 in the north and northwest areas of the county, 52,336 in the eastern county area, 17,187 in the southwest part of the county, and 12,194 in the central county including Hemet and San Jacinto. Those 136,827 jobs included 92,630 in the lower wage and higher growth category with another 12,326 jobs in the lower wage and lower growth category. The average Riverside County wage is $33,625 with a southwest area average wage of $35,160.

While some of the information of the report can be used to identify jobs closer to residences, the information is also expected to assist planners in tailoring one region’s strengths to the other’s. “Riverside County has a fairly large logistics cluster and it wants to grow,” Cox said. “In order to be successful in doing that they’re going to have to import more and more goods.”

That would also have an effect on truck traffic between the two regions, although anticipation of such traffic allows for better planning.

One of the initial purposes of the I-15 Interregional Partnership was to address the jobs/housing imbalance between the two regions which has created interregional commutes. Cox doubts that the employment growth patterns will alleviate that imbalance. “We’re likely to see commute patterns continue on into the future,” he said.

Cox noted that if Riverside County’s wine industry were to grow to the point where it could attract tourists as do certain Northern California regions, other jobs would be created. “It’s a good opportunity all the way around,” he said.

San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price noted that in October the county had directed the county’s Chief Administrative Officer to work with the local industry and explore options to allow small wineries to expand and operate by right without burdensome regulations such as a major use permit. “This is very timely because it’s a growth industry for San Diego as well,” Slater-Price said.

Cox noted that industries need competent workers to be successful. “Most important are the people in the individual region itself,” he said. “We should also be successful in training and educating our own workforce.”

The study to understand the dynamics of the Riverside County economy and its relation to the San Diego economy was one of the main objectives of Phase II of the I-15 Interregional Partnership. “I think this is the perfect step,” Viera said. “What we hope to do is at least provide options to the people who are making the commutes.”

SANDAG and WRCOG are working with Caltrans for grant funding for Phase III of the I-15 Interregional Partnership, which would implement various pilot programs. “We really want to continue this project,” Viera said. “There’s got to be some things in there that could benefit


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